Add Variety and Interest to Your Houseplant Collection

by Laura Hollenstein


- Six Simple Steps for Success -

If your houseplant collection could use a little perking up, try your hand at creating some captivating indoor container combinations. Crafting a long-lasting work of horticultural art is pretty easy with a little know-how.

Here are six simple steps for creating indoor containers with that professionally designed look:

1. Nurseries generally carry a range of low-to medium-light plants that are well suited for most home environments. Choose healthy plants in a variety of textures and heights with similar light and water requirements.

2. Have a look at the roots before you purchase a plant — they should have a white, fleshy appearance. Avoid plants that are pot bound.

3. If you plan on planting them directly into the container, make sure the container has a drainage hole, and use a soil mixture specifically blended for indoor container plants.

4. Consider leaving the plants in their grow pots. Interior landscapers use this trick all the time. Not only does it give you more container options, since drainage holes aren't an issue, it also makes it a lot easier to replace individual plants when necessary.

5. After you've arranged the plants, add top dressing such as sheet moss or treated Spanish moss for a finished look. Serving a dual purpose, top dressing will help to retain moisture, and will also cover the edges of grow pots if you don't directly plant them.

6. Determine which day of the week will be your routine maintenance day (if you don't already have one). A regular maintenance schedule is vital for success with your indoor container combinations. While you may not water every plant every time, they will need to be dusted and checked for insects. Also, plants that like high humidity, such as ferns and palms, will need to be misted.

Here are four easy-to-assemble assortments to spark your horticultural creativity:

Spathiphyllum 'Domino' is the focal point. Peeking from both sides the spath is Leea guineensis polyanthum 'Purple Desire'. In the center of the spath is Pteris quadriaurita 'Tricolor'. The trailing plant on both sides is Hedera helix 'Ingrid Liz'. In the front at the bottom next to the ivy is Hemigraphis alternata 'Purple Waffle'.
Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor' is the focal point. From left to right is Pteris quadriaurita 'Tricolor'. In the front is Fittonia argyroneura 'White Brocade', and in the back right is Fittonia argyroneura 'Red Vein'.
Hemigraphis alternata 'Purple Waffle' is the focal point. Pteris, or brake fern, is peeking from both sides and the trailing plant is Hedera helix 'Ingrid Liz'.
Chamaedorea elegans, or Neanthe bella palm, is the focal point. On both sides is Fittonia argyroneura 'White Brocade' and in the front is Selaginella moss.


Laura Hollenstein is a freelance writer, interior plant consultant and small space garden specialist. Visit her website at and her garden blog at She can also be reached by e-mail at


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